Lauren Webster has a thing for cactuses. Or cacti. Or whatever. Her sunny Bondi home studio is studded with cacti, among the old records, artworks and ephemera. It’s here that she creates her bold, iconic artworks.
When she’s not working at home, Webster works from a shared studio space in Surry Hills, when things get messy. “I can use power tools and spray paint and stuff like that without causing too much drama there, so that’s really good as well,” she says. When it comes to background music, the music fits the art. “If it’s more like Mambo-y surf culture kind of stuff, I do love more grungy garage surf rock psychedelic stuff, but then sometimes my own personal work, depending on the story of that it might be old stuff from like the 50s, 60s and 70s and sad, cowgirl music. It’s a real mix. You use it to kind of just like create the energy that you need for that moment.”
When the city gets too much for her, Lauren takes to the bush. “The city makes me a little but claustrophobic at times. So yeah, I drive out of town and sometimes just spend a few days just working in the bush, which makes me super happy as well. So yeah, I kind of like to keep cruising I suppose.” Cruising is a big motif in Webster’s art – vintage cars, postcards, desert motels pop up. “I do have an affinity for like just driving. I like the mythology of the desert and the west and that slight danger of isolation as well, so I think it’s like those things are really like a continuous thread in my work, so as much as I’m inspired by travel on a personal level, those kinds of like places and scenes just sort of mean a lot to me and my work as well,” she says.
Another aspect of Lauren’s art is the juxtaposition of the overtly masculine (cars, guns, snakes, skulls) with the overtly feminine (flowers, coral, hearts). For Lauren, art imitates life – these themes represent the two sides of her personality and style. “Some days I’ll wake up feeling pretty girly and I’m just like, “Yeah, I’m gonna wear a like flowy vintage dress and I might do something like ribbons in my hair”, and then other days I’m just like … “I think I’ll dress like a 13-year-old skater kid in Vans and baggy jeans. I sort of like that that comes through in the art as well.”
While she’s been collaborating with Mambo since 2015, Lauren didn’t grow up with surf culture. “I grew up wearing like total cowboy get-ups in the country,” she laughs. The cowgirl pops up in the guns, snakes and – yes- cacti in her artwork. And it’s still in her wardrobe too. Two of her favourite pieces are a belt and rodeo t-shirt her mum collected on a trip to the states when she was younger. “It’s almost like a little diary that’s like been passed down which I think is kind of cool.”